What You Should Know About this Issue:

Municipal facilities and operations can have a significant impact on the community's environment and the health of its residents and employees. Environmental quality is also affected by the decisions municipal authorities make in approving the development of residential, commercial and industrial property. This fact sheet describes three key areas where municipalities can proactively practice environmental stewardship:

  • Using an Environmental Management System to systematically stay in compliance with environmental regulations,
  • Directing community growth to preserve a healthy environment, and
  • Conserving energy at municipal operations.

Environmental Management Systems:

An Environmental Management System (EMS) is a set of management processes and procedures through which an organization analyzes, controls and reduces the environmental impact of its activities, products and services and operates with greater efficiency and control. By implementing an EMS, your organization plans its environmental performance, does the actions needed, checks the effectiveness of the program and then acts to correct any noncompliance or other gap in the system. The "plan, do, check, act" cycle is repeated throughout the life of the organization.

Implementing EMSs can assist communities with compliance issues such as:

  • Hazardous waste and pesticide management.
  • Vehicle fueling and maintenance.
  • Chemical storage, air quality, and asbestos removal in schools.
  • Water and wastewater treatment facility operations.

For more information, please visit:

Lowell Center for Sustainable Production: Environmental Management Systems

Contacts at MassDEP for More Information:

Eric Fahle, 617-292-5970

Smart Growth:

When development is done "smartly," it can create new economic opportunities and places where people want to live and visit. It can also preserve the qualities of a community that have drawn its residents and businesses to their locations, and protect important environmental resources. By encouraging development that concentrates and mixes a variety of uses, Smart Growth principles encourage and promote:

  • Protection of environmentally important open space and ecosystems
  • Wise use of natural resources
  • Transportation choices that improve our air quality, and
  • Economic and housing development that shares its benefits and burdens equitably.

MassDEP smart growth initiatives include financial, regulatory, and technical incentives for cleanup and redevelopment of "Brownfields" (including technical assistance grants for municipalities and citizen groups to hire their own experts to review information on contaminated site assessment and cleanup developed by property owners and developers); and urban redevelopment incentives in the State Revolving Fund (SRF), which is a low-interest loan program for municipal and regional wastewater and drinking water projects

For more information, see:

Brownfields Program


Contacts at MassDEP for more information:

Brownfields Program, Kerry Bowie, 617-556-1007
State Revolving Fund, Steven McCurdy, 617-292-5779

Energy Conservation:

Energy conservation can reduce costs, defer or avoid the need for new infrastructure, and reduce pollution (including pollutants that contribute to global climate change).  Municipalities can provide a range of programs to encourage energy conservation, including:

  • Explore the use of renewable electricity sources for office buildings and other municipal facilities.
  • Coordinate efforts to encourage the use of green building and energy conservation techniques with the Commonwealth's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources.
  • Work with the Massachusetts State Building Code Coordinating Council and the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards to evaluate energy efficient construction standards.

For more information, please visit these websites:

Department of Energy Resources (DOER)

US Green Building Council

U.S. EPA Municipal Technologies: Energy Conservation and Management Fact Sheets